The path to successful design starts with a discovery phase. We observe customers by watching them in their environments, or through more formal methods that allow us understand the process they go through to complete choose a product or complete a task. The examples below list some of the techniques we use to understand what your customer does, thinks, or values.
- What it will do: Usability testing validates that a product or service can be used intuitively by your actual customers, not just a product designer.
- How it works: One at a time, customers use your product or service and “think aloud” while you watch their difficulties using it.
- What it tells you: You’ll learn about terminology that isn’t working, controls that don’t operate the way users expect, areas of confusion, the users’ mental models of your product or service, and more. You can also learn how customers with varying ages, heights, skill levels, and experience use your product or service differently.
- Why do it: Product and service designers and engineers are smart, but they are not your users. Usability testing always delivers surprises that can help improve the product or service.
- What it will do: Focus groups allow you to understand your customers’ experiences, thoughts and feelings on a particular topic in an unbiased way.
- How it works: Six to ten customers (or potential customers) are brought together for a moderator-led discussion.
- What it tells you: You’ll learn how an existing or future product, service, or marketing message is viewed by your customers. It’s a great way to learn how new concepts will be received.
- Why do it: Focus groups go beyond your customers’ visible behavior. They show why your customers like or dislike something and what drives their behavior at a deeper level.
- What it will do: Feature-function tradeoffs give you an ordered list of the desirability of your product or service features.
- How it works: Six to ten customers (or potential customers) create their “ideal product” by organizing tiles which represent potential features. Since they can’t choose all the features, they must make tradeoffs about which features to include. These tradeoffs are recorded and an ordered list of feature de sirability can quickly be derived.
- What it tells you: You’ll find out what features matter to your customers and, more importantly, why.
- Why do it: By including features that customers want and excluding features that customers don’t need, you can raise the value of your product or service to your customers while reducing the cost. That leads directly to increased margins and higher customer satisfaction.